Little by little, James Harden’s injury status for Game 5 against the Bucks improved on Tuesday. After being ruled out earlier in the week, the Brooklyn Nets star was upgraded to doubtful, then to questionable later in the afternoon before he was deemed a game-time decision.
With less than an hour to go until tip, the 30-year-old guard hasn’t made a call on whether or not he’ll play in the most critical game of the series thus far. When the time does come to make a decision, Harden will get the final say.
Nets head coach Steve Nash confirmed as much in his pregame press conference. He revealed that Harden has pushed hard to be healthy enough to play and that the team will support him no matter what decision he makes.
“Ultimately it will be James’ decision, and we’ll support him,” Nash said, per SNY Nets.
"Ultimately it will be James' decision, and we'll support him"
Steve Nash discusses the level of risk that's involved with James Harden potentially playing in Game 5 pic.twitter.com/05lbHOj1Xi
— Nets Videos (@SNYNets) June 15, 2021
An ailing hamstring has sidelined Harden for all but 43 seconds of the Eastern Conference Semifinals against the Bucks. Early on in Game 1, he re-aggravated a previous injury to his leg and left the court almost immediately.
The Nets didn’t struggle immediately in Harden’s absence but after Kyrie Irving sprained his ankle in Brooklyn’s Game 4 loss, the team’s revealed its glaring need for a second playmaker behind Kevin Durant. With the series tied at two games apiece, Nash and the Nets fanbase would gladly welcome back the superstar if he’s ready to play.
Of course there’s a certain amount of risk associated with Harden trying to return on Tuesday. However, he knows his body better than anyone else and clearly wants to be out there, so may try to push through some discomfort to suit up.
Game 5 between the Nets and the Bucks tips off from Brooklyn at 8:30 p.m. ET. The game will air on TNT.